In a bias-related incident involving sexual orientation, an unknown attacker assaulted an unidentified Georgetown University student on the 3300 block of M Street at 1:31 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 13. The student was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

“The GU student along with two other students were walking in the area when an unidentified male subject approached from the opposite direction, made a derogatory comment regarding sexual orientation, and subsequently assaulted the GU student before fleeing in an unknown direction,” a public safety alert sent to students from the Georgetown University Police Department read.

The email described the Metropolitan Police Department as arriving first on the scene and responding to the victim, after which GUPD officers were contacted. According to the student, whose status was described as “receiving medical treatment,” the suspect was Middle Eastern, male and approximately 30 years old.

The incident is currently under investigation by GUPD and MPD. Georgetown Director of Media Relations Rachel Pugh directed questions on the investigation to MPD, who could not be reached for comment.

The public safety alert labeled the incident as a “bias-related assault.” GUPD Chief of Police Jay Gruber explained the term as a subcategory of hate crimes.

“It is just a more specific way of describing the assault rather than just using the term ‘hate crime,’ which is a broader category encompassing a number of bias-related crimes, while ‘bias-related assault’ is more defining of the particular incident,” Gruber wrote in an email. “The purpose of a public safety alert is to alert the campus community to a potential threat, not to legally categorize the incident.”

GU Pride President Thomas Lloyd (SFS ’15) expressed shock and dismay at the assault.

“As someone who works to make any person feel safe regardless of their identity or expression or anyone’s possible interpretation of that identity, it’s disappointing, and it’s scary,” Lloyd said.

GU Pride will hold an event, titled “Creating a Safer Space,” in response to the assault. During the event, participants will examine documents recently brought to light by the LGBTQ Histories Project and will share and reflect on their own experiences.

Lloyd pointed to Georgetown’s history with hate crimes, which includes assaults on the basis of sexual orientation in the fall of 2007, prompting a wide campus response and the establishment of Georgetown’s LGBTQ Resource Center, and in the fall of 2009. He noted the progress he has seen in campus culture since then.

“The sort of trigger an LGBTQ person has with hate crimes on this campus is to think about what happened five or six years ago, where they were closer to campus, and one or two incidents were done by other students. I found a lot of solace in the reaction of campus, which was really unified outrage,” Lloyd said. “This is a question of perceived identity, so [campus] is full of allies and supporters for anyone who expressed and presents any which way.”

Despite this progress, Lloyd said there was significant opportunity for improvement on campus to ensure a safe space where students feel more comfortable reporting these types of incidents.

“Last spring, there was an incident where a few students were verbally assaulted at The Tombs after GenderFunk [Georgetown’s annual drag ball held during Pride Week], so on one hand, while I say it’s constantly improving, on the other, there are a lot of experiences that don’t get reported,” Lloyd said. “So the event is to look at the history, see how we’ve gotten better, and also to share stories on where we still have to go.”

Lloyd urged anyone who needed counseling help to reach out to the LGBTQ Resource Center in Leavey 325. Anyone with further knowledge of the incident should contact MPD’s Second District Station at (202) 715-7300, or the Department of Public Safety at (202) 687-4343.

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